I’ll set the scene. Imagine your name is Jermaine Beckford.
Your team, Bolton Wanderers, find themselves 1-0 down and on top needing a goal.
Your manager, Dougie Freedman, assesses the bench, he selects you to warm up and as you do this you suddenly hear a flutter of applause and the odd father telling his son ‘this guy was a legend for us’ – you try not to pay attention as, mentioned earlier, your team are losing and they need to you be on the top of your game.
You approach the touchline and the fourth official does his checks, the home fans look across and see you having a final chat with the manager, the look on their face cries ‘we need you’.
The ball goes out of play; it’s your time to make a difference.
At this point, I can tell you that any praise you get from an old team you ignore. You certainly don’t make the opposition fans your main priority.
As you can tell, I’m more than annoyed that one of our players thought the best way to make an entrance into a league game was to show how much he loved his previous employers.
The only thing that should be going through your mind is how I am going to make the club that is now paying my wages happy, and that is by scoring a goal.
If this guy was a 25-30 goal a season man, fans might overlook the opening.
If the player had a statue outside the ground of an old club.
If the player can head the ball into basically an open goal from 5 yards out in the last few seconds but he isn’t, he doesn’t and he didn’t.
It’s not about respect. If Beckford wanted to show the Leeds fans how much they meant to him, why not soak up the applause in the warm up, or do a lap of honour after the game. Whilst you're actively involved in the game, anything outside the white lines should be irrelevant.
I'm not saying a player shouldn't acknowledge fans of a cub, especially when that club is where you started and probably peaked.
Indeed when Kevin Nolan came back to the Reebok for the first time I'm sure I remember him acknowledging the fans as soon as he came out to do his pre-match warm up. A situation could arise soon where Gary Cahill will come up against the team where he established himself as a great defender.
Do we think he'll clap the fans when the ball goes out of play in the stand nearest to the away fans? Of course he won't, he's a real professional - however I'm almost certain he'll express his thanks to the Wanderers faithful.
I defended Beckford for a long time after he came to the club, yes he hits the net every blue moon but he tried and he a presence on the pitch which made it look like he cared.
However, his head never seems to be in the game and for me and I think banging your chest, after your club has lost an important game is both stupid and sums his last 18 months up in a nutshell.